Kaizō: the Formal End of the Year’s Brewing
Year-round brewing has been increased nowadays, but most of sake is brewed in the period from fall through spring. After each brewery finishes pressing the last moromi of a particular season, calculates the total quantity of sake and sake lees produced and undergoes an inspection by the tax office, then sake brewing for the year finally ends. The end of whole process of the year’s brewing is called kaizo. Those engaged in sake brewing in the coldest season start working from fall and continuously work day and night in sake breweries for over 200 days. When spring comes, kaizo becomes a turning point for sake brewery workers, because the time has come to end the year’s sake brewing. Many breweries hold a celebration called kaizo iwai, where they place an offering on the Shinto altar conveying their thanks to deities of sake for the success of sake brewing. Then all the workers drink sake together and thank each other for the great work. During the brewing season, they have to avoid some fermented food including natto (fermented soybeans) in order to prevent influence on sake brewing, but on the day of kaizo they don’t have to worry about that. Kurabitos participating in sake brewing, by using their off-season for farming or fishing, go home after the day of kaizo so that only toji and a few kurabitos are left in the brewery and the brewery becomes quiet for a while until the next season. However, in the present day, with an increase of annual employment by sake breweries, not a few breweries start cleaning up after the kaizo.